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THE   LIGHTHOUSE

seemed a branch struck at him, a bramble blinded
him, but he was not going to let himself be
beaten by that; on he went, tossing over page
after page. And she went on telling herself a
story about escaping from a sinking ship, for
she was safe, while he sat there; safe, as she
felt herself when she crept in from the garden,
and took a book down, and the old gentleman,
lowering the paper suddenly, said something
very brief over the top of it about the character
of Napoleon.

She gazed back over the sea, at the island.
But the leaf was losing its sharpness. It was very
small; it was very distant. The sea was more
important now than the shore. Waves were all
round them, tossing and sinking, with a log
wallowing down one wave; a gull riding on
another. About here, she thought, dabbling her
fingers in the water, a ship had sunk, and she
murmured, dreamily, half asleep, how we perished,
each alone.

12

So much depends then, thought Lily Briscoe,
looking at the sea which had scarcely a stain on it,
which was so soft that the sails and the clouds
seemed set in its blue, so much depends, she
thought, upon distance: whether people are near

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